Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The anchoring dance

Well, we’ve been in Georgetown for a while now.  Originally we were anchored on the outside row of boats off Volleyball Beach.  While this was fine for a few days, when some boats pulled out we seized the opportunity to move in closer.  We snugged ourselves into a spot right in front of The Chat & Chill within swimming distance of the beach.   This was great for a couple of days while the winds were calm.  We could be at the beach within seconds and visiting other boats didn’t mean a long wet ride home.

the "on the beach" location
On Saturday afternoon a squall blew through from the west, which is unusual.  A west wind means there isn’t really any place to take cover here.   We paid for our front row parking spot by swinging around and bouncing off the sand.  Brian had the engine running within seconds but it was no match for the wind blowing us into the beach.  He jumped in the dinghy and told me to grab the wheel.  He powered the dinghy into the bow of the boat and finally got us turned and off the sand. 
During this time everyone was scrambling on their boats.  I do not like steering myself in close quarters and had visions of me…all by myself (if Brian couldn’t get back in the boat) navigating through the maze of boats out to open water.  Brian did manage to get back on the boat and took over the wheel to get us out of trouble. 
We picked out another spot back in the outer row and dropped the anchor again.  After a disapproving look from the next boat we picked up and moved again…and again.  We finally ended up about a quarter mile south of the beach where the boats were much farther apart.  With another Morgan on one side and a tug on the other we were happy that this was a good place.
these are all the boats anchored off
Volleyball Beach to the north of us
As the afternoon wore on and we got our hearts rates back to normal that nasty west wind continued to build.  As it got dark the wind started to shift to the north.  The boat which had been a comfortable distance away on our starboard side was now directly in front of us.  He had about 200 feet of rode out and we had about 125 feet of chain.  This put him about 20 or 30 feet right in front of us.  Re-anchoring was not an option because he was right over top of our chain.  Letting out more chain was also not feasible because it would put us too close to the tug. 
and these are all the boats anchored off
Sand Dollar Beach to the south of us 
We spent a lot of time in the cockpit that night just watching and making sure everyone stayed in place.  We do have an anchor alarm on our chart plotter but it isn’t loud enough to be heard inside the boat, especially with the wind howling like it was.   I have an anchor alarm app (Drag Queen) on the IPhone  which had good reviews.  I set it and hoped for the best.   The alarm sounded within about 15 minutes and we both raced to see if our anchor was dragging, but found we were exactly in the same place.   I ended up turning the alarm part off and just checked it every 15 minutes or so.  At one point it placed us over 6000 feet from the anchor.  Sorry Drag Queen, I have no faith in you.
Brian headed for bed about midnight and I stayed up dividing my time between reading and sitting in the cockpit to make sure all was well.  I did sleep a little.  With one eye open and the VHF radio on beside me.  I think a lot of others did the same.
We heard from friends staying at Staniel Cay the next morning that a 65 foot Sportfisher had dragged and ended up on the rocks. There was nothing anyone could do to help in the dark in their dinghies.  We also heard on the cruiser’s net that someone who had been anchored in the middle of the harbor had, had their dinghy come undone some time during the night.  A hard bottom dinghy with a 15HP outboard was on the loose.  Still today it has not been recovered.
Everyone has their own comfort level of how close they are willing to be to another boat.  I have decided that I like my space.  We had a power boat pull up right beside us this morning and start to drop their anchor.  Brian gave them “the look” and they waved and moved on.
Lesson learned! If if feels too close. It is. Don’t be greedy.
It calmed down for a bit yesterday so we headed to the beach for volleyball and some socializing.  We were invited to an evening on another boat so went back for a quick bite before heading over there.  We then heard an announcement on the radio of a strong squall approaching and that was the end of our plans. 
Last night was another windy bouncy one.  At one point on my look around I saw what looked like a transport truck in the middle of the harbor with 2 spotlights pointed directly at us.  It didn’t seem to be moving but I kept my eye on it.  It was still there this morning and as the sun came up I saw that instead of a UFO it was actually just a container ship waiting for customs clearance.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the not so much fun part of cruising (when you dream about that fireplace back home). But just like childbirth a couple of days later you forget the worst of it and end up with a good story!
    I was just checking into that DragQueen App, I probably won't bother now.


About Us

Brian, Sally and Cricket the cat sailing on our 41 foot Morgan Classic sailboat. In October 2011 we sold our house, quit our jobs and set out for Florida in search of a sailboat. We found her in Madeira Beach Florida. A 1987 41 foot Morgan Classic. Our plan is to sail for a couple of years. First to the Bahamas, after that...who knows.